WASHINGTON -- An Army investigation into allegations that GIs killed South Korean refugees at No Gun Ri early in the Korean War failed to establish that U.S. troops there were acting on orders from superiors, the Army's top civilian official said yesterday.
No definitive answer
on No Gun Ri
Army Secretary Caldera says the
passage of time has made it impossible
to learn what happened
By Robert Burns
In his first public comments on the as-yet-unpublished results of a yearlong Army investigation, Army Secretary Louis Caldera told reporters that the passage of time since the incident in July 1950 made it impossible to determine with certainty what happened at No Gun Ri.
"We looked at more than a million documents and interviewed several hundred individuals who were likely to have firsthand kind of information, so I think we know with much more clarity ... what didn't happen," he said.
"We have been unable to establish any connection between any orders given and any soldiers who were at No Gun Ri," Caldera said.
Former Rep. Pete McCloskey, R-Calif., a member of a civilian advisory panel monitoring the Army probe, said earlier this month that he disagreed with the reported conclusion of Army investigators that there was not enough evidence that the soldiers at No Gun Ri had orders to fire on refugees. McCloskey said the Pentagon had been too quick to dismiss the testimony of ex-GIs, and he would ask for a revision of the Army's report. "There is no question that there were orders."
Pressed to say whether he doubts U.S. soldiers killed civilians at No Gun Ri, he said: "No. I think there was loss of life there, and that was very regrettable."
In Seoul, Oh Young-ho, a director-general at the prime minister's office, said today that "there is a difference between us and the Americans on whether there were orders to shoot at refugees.
"There are conflicting testimonies on the issue. The Americans believe that there were no such orders, but we believe that there were such orders," he said.
It was the first time the South Korean government specifically acknowledged the dispute on whether there was a shoot-to-kill order at No Gun Ri.
A Clinton administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity last week, said U.S. and South Korean officials reached a "mutual understanding" that U.S. troops did the shooting, although they could not agree on the number of civilians killed.